All-Star team awaits Panthers in Wisconsin

The only time a loss has any value is when the team learns from it.

The women’s rugby team will look to learn from only its second loss in almost four seasons and improve play for the next match, which happens to be at 2 p.m. on Saturday against the Wisconsin All-Stars in Stevens Point, Wisc..

The Wisconsin All-Stars features the best rugby players from the Division-II Great Waters Conference.

In the last match-up in 2008, Eastern pulled out a narrow victory with a 12-10 score at Lakeside Field.

Eastern head coach Frank Graziano remembers the challenge that the Wisconsin All-Stars posed in the harsh conditions.

“It was the first game of the year and the field wasn’t in good shape,” Graziano said. “It was at least 100 degrees and neither team was playing well. We probably used about eight or 10 subs in that game because it was just too hot.”

This contest between them will not be as hot, and will be the last match played in a 7-on-7 format, but it is a good opportunity for the team to show they can play with the new rules.

Eastern’s last match using rugby sevens against Quinnipiac did not go as head coach Frank Graziano had planned, but he promised that the team would improve their play against the Wisconsin All-Stars.

“I’m very encouraged individually that we’ve had a good week of practice and that we are ready to head down to Stevens Point,” Graziano said. “I think we just needed to get the bad game out of the way.”

One person who did not have the benefit of those practices was senior flanker Stefanie Mahan, who is still out with a facial injury she suffered in an alumni scrimmage on Aug. 25.

Mahan sat out the match against Quinnipiac; a match that felt her absence as Quinnipiac outscored Eastern 25-5. She will be a game-time decision on Saturday.

“I think she gets her stitches out in the next couple of days,” Graziano said. “After that we will get her mouth guard in and see where it goes.”

The Panthers will head to Stevens Point and face-off at 2 p.m. Saturday in Stevens Point, Wisc., in an attempt to climb back to .500 on the season.

Nicholas Ruffolo can be reached at 581-2821 or [email protected]